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Paradox and Platitude in Wittgenstein's Philosophy$
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David Pears

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199247707

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199247707.001.0001

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The Pictorial Character of Language

The Pictorial Character of Language

(p.1) 1 The Pictorial Character of Language
Paradox and Platitude in Wittgenstein's Philosophy

David Pears

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the emergence of the Picture Theory in the early phase of Wittgenstein's philosophy. The general idea developed in the theory is that a verbal description of a scene is like the surface of a pointillist painting: each dot stands for a particular point in space and the colour of the dot conveys a message about that point, and thus the whole painting is a complicated report of the actual scene. It is plausible that the Picture Theory was outflanked by other developments in Wittgenstein's philosophy and left to capitulate without any direct assault. If this is what happened, it is not too difficult to identify the new developments that produced this result. One is his realization that isolated ostensive definitions are never enough to fix the meanings of words; and the other is his rejection of the Realist explanation of the regular use of words.

Keywords:   Picture Theory, Tractatus, realism, colour

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